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"For Carl"
abettertomorrow30 March 2000
Reading other peoples' reviews, I see a split 50/50 argument where one side loves the movie and the other hates it. I am not one bit surprised, due to the importance of the film, and I feel this is proof that Contact is one of the most powerful movies of the decade. Like the reaction from the civilians to the machine, a movie with this much heavy firepower is likely to get both loathing and praise from its viewers. I for one praise the film, for its toughness and sensitivity, symbolism and passion, and the fact that it is a rare science fiction film, a gem which was released in a time where scientific intelligence in film has become a nothing short of a joke as the wonder of the universe has been ignored and the mystery of alien life have become a neverending trail of movie villains.

The film of course centers around the science vs. religion theme, the oldest and most frightening of all school debates. Instead of taking the more independent path the book takes, the film takes the more sensitive on the science vs. religion argument throughout the film by telling us that science and religion points to the same direction (the "pursuit of truth") but are misunderstood when studying the nature of their WAY of finding the truth (science uses evidence and answers, religion uses love faith). At the end of it all, the film lets us know that if science and religion stops colliding with each other and starts to combine and compliment each other (listen to Ellie's final words in her testament) the human race might achieve things we can only dream about now.

A perfectly refreshing film, with lots to say, great acting and directing, sound and special effects. Robbed by the Academy.
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Absolutely brilliant; unequivocally, completely amazing in every way.
Juzai23 February 1999
N.B: This is a very long monologue because I adore CONTACT to bits.

I loved the irony present in Contact, as well as its religious imagery and its attention to fine detail. To see the universe in that opening scene was breath-taking, and the reason for it all coming out of Ellie's eye becomes blissfully apparent in light of the end, for her journey was just as much a physical as well as an emotional and spiritual one. The photography was superb, alternating between expansive sweeps of the landscape and the universe, and close, intimate shots of the characters, symbolising the potential for ‘the unknown' as well as an equally important knowledge of all that is familiar – contact with our own people.

The irony manifested itself in how Ellie, who denounced Palmer's ability to possess complete faith in God, ended up being the advocate of such a faith, though of a different strand; she could now appreciate Palmer's passion. Remember that Biblical verse that when paraphrased reads something like: `The man who is not willing to give up his life will lose it, but he who is willing will gain it'? This religious imagery correlates to how Drumlin lost his life in pursuit of personal acclaim, while Ellie, who admitted that she would freely give up her life in pursuit of life's tormenting questions, gained it in such a memorable and satisfying way. She found inner peace, having made contact with two intelligent races; one of the skies, and one of her own kind. The dried up cliché alluding to aliens: `We are not alone' begins to take on a new meaning in a multitude of dimensions in light of this brilliant movie.

I read this wonderful ‘blurb' about Contact, and I think this following line delineates the film, and why watching Contact became such a defining film for me: `[Ellie's] personal voyage will take her beyond theory, beyond knowledge , beyond experience, to the realization that true vision is ultimately the union of fact and faith.' This duality of life and true fulfilment which arises from the reconcilement of contrary beliefs is surely a theme of the film: evinced through the conflict created by science vs. religion, fact vs. faith, vision vs. reality.

Carl Sagan's novel was also a fulfilling pleasure to read. I thought that the message in pi was an absolutely crucial element of the book, the implications of such a message being that there is an all-powerful ‘force' behind the universe, which brings order to disorder, and such a ‘force' we might call God. So possibly, C.S's novel did prove the existence of God. Maybe the recurring ‘C' pattern in the film, (the ‘quadruple' system Ellie saw near Vega, the sands in her father's hands and that which she holds in the end), is indicative of such order – that no matter how large or small an event, i.e, whether a message is written in the sky or in the palm of one's hands, order is present, and implies a powerful force guiding the universe.

I am incapable of seeing many, if any, faults with this film – I truly cannot understand why anyone would think it contrived or the same as something as brain-numbing and gung-ho as `Armageddon'. It is truly an intellectual film with meanings at many levels – and so thought-provoking! Perhaps Matthew McConaughey's representation of Palmer Joss was a little unbelievable, and the thrice-repeated `It's an awful waste of space' phrase that connected Ellie to her father and Ellie to Palmer can be seen as a tad too sentimental on the one hand, but on the other, it serves to punctuate the potentiality of the physical universe, and the human mind, which, in C.S's case, conceived this book. Jodie Foster is magnificent, but then again, isn't she always? The extraordinary passion Ellie exhibited was admirable – her innate sense of wonder balanced by a stabbing loneliness, born out of the premature departure of a dear parent.

I love Contact because of its poignant humanity, the sense of wonder that resonates so strongly throughout the film and indicates the strength of that wonder which inspired C.S in the first place, and because it searches for meaning so idealistically, while still, necessarily, maintaining the sometimes harsh realities of life (personified by James Woods' unsympathetic and skeptical Kitz).

To those who hated the ending, you obviously missed a crucial component of the film, that of possibility and potentiality. To have Ellie return with tangible evidence of alien existence would demolish all the credibility that Robert Zemeckis attempted to create by showing the current American president referring generically to the event of the message being discovered, the decision to build the machine, etc. The ending was crafted in such a way as to enable a choice by the viewer/reader to be made – just like how C.S equally respected those in his book who chose to pursue a path of science or religion. We, the audience, are allowed to decide what really happened, and this makes Contact an almost interactive and therefore a more intimate experience.

Contact has something to say to everyone, and has real meaning that cannot help but whisk viewers and readers alike to some thrilling place. To those who thought the film predictable, and had not previously read the book, I would say that you must be VERY creative if you managed to anticipate all that Contact had to offer. But for everyone who was as much inspired by this magnificent film as I was, here's the most important lesson to be derived from both the book and the film: `For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.' This enlightened message, dreamt up by Carl Sagan, makes me even more convinced that a book critic who said of Carl Sagan: `with terrestrials like him, who needs extras?' is exactly right.
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No film has moved me more than this one, ever
SteveHevetS5 November 2004
This, for me, is a masterpiece. I have enjoyed it more with each viewing.

Carl Sagan was a great man. He promoted science in the way it should be, portraying the profound mysteriousness of our universe with humility, and without dogma. In his book, the Demon-Haunted World, he quoted Einstein:

"All our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike -- and yet it is the most precious thing we have".

Contact conveys this simple message in a subtle yet immensely powerful way. The performances are some of the most compelling I have seen, particularly by Jodie Foster and David Morse.

Just magnificent.
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Diamond in the Rough
ada-p26 June 2003
So many movies out there are pure drivel. They use sex, or shock, or sex to sell two hours of something that in no way contributes to our existence; be it inspiration, knowledge or spiritual awakening.

Contact is an exceptional example of a movie that DESERVES to exist. From the spectactular beginning shot that shows us just how small we are in a world that once thought the universe was made for, and around, mankind; to its realistic conclusion that any X-Phile would expect to happen: this movie appeals to our humanity, intelligence and sense of adventure.

One of the greatest realisations that the movie will guide you to is that what we search for in outer space is actually in our own backyards. We are cut off from each other and sci-fi tries to quell our loneliness with ideas that we'll meet E.T. and wont feel so lonely in our existence. But were AREN'T alone... we have each other.

I never get tired of watching this movie, though I wish they brought out a packed special edition DVD full of behind the scene effects and the like.
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Films are rarely as good as the book…but there are exceptions to the rule…
gingerkris22 October 2004
This remains true for this very good adaptation of the classic book by Carl Sagan. Sagans' idea was to make science and the elite commandeering of information available to the majority, he wrote his books for a wide audience and I think the film shows this as was intended by its author.

The Film is roughly about Dr Arroway, Ellie, and how she handles being alone in a world without family or close friends. It is metaphorically able to make us all think about how isolated we as a race, and as people can feel.

Ellie, a brilliant young scientist working on the mistrusted SETI program discovers a message sent to earth from distant star system Vega. On its discovery Ellie must battle with the Military, Pentagon, and Male Dominated scientific world to keep her cards on the table and her discovery that of her team. Ellie is constantly kept in the game by he benefactor, a rich technological industrialist mogul who has a vested interest in her participation of the programme to reach this alien culture.

I don't wish to go on any further and spoil this movie as I rate it as a fantastic exploration of Science Vs Religion and the entire subsequent human spectrum in between. As a film there were several alterations from the book that I felt could have been included, for example not just one traveler but a range of them, philosophers, theologists, scientists, poets and Dr Arroway.

I have watched this film a number of times and still find it a joy to watch the fifth, eighth and tenth time. Jody foster playing a not so dissimilar to her role in Silence of the lambs (attractive, clever, young, successful woman battling in a male world) is exceptional and delivers feeling and intellect alongside an impressive script.

I would give this film an 8.5 and recommend it to anybody, but if you are a sci-fi fan and haven't seen this film then you're in for a treat.
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An excellent, thoughtful movie
vtancredi7 March 2005
This movie examines the premise of what would actually happen if we were to make first contact with aliens, and how that contact would logically happen.

The protagonist is loosely based on an actual astronomer named Jill Tartar. She is focused on finding other life almost to the exclusion of all else in her life. When aliens respond to the Earth's first interstellar broadcast, she is caught up in the hysteria.

What follows is an interesting observation of humanity rather than any aliens. We learn very little about aliens throughout the movie. Rather, we see how people react to knowledge of this magnitude. The movie examines religious, scientific, military and international reactions to the idea of humanity not being alone. I thought they did a fantastic job of representing the scale of reaction, from the fanatic to the skeptic, within the confines of a 2 hour movie. The movie mixes a thoughtful, sentimental tone with a good pace for action and excellent characterization. There is a somewhat arbitrary love story thrown in, but it is tolerable based on how it helps the protagonist's long-delayed progress towards a deeper understanding of her own humanity.

The movie ends in a poignant yet hopeful tone, understanding our human problems but accepting them. I think the message is that the alien contact is the catalyst that will help humanity mature and grow past our more dark halves.

If you like the movie I'd recommend the book. It gives much more insight on the aliens, and expands the scope as there are a number of scientists that participate rather than just one from America, and goes more in depth into the science. It also attempts to show that religion and science can get along. My favorite part is at the very end of the book where Sagan shows how God hid a message in the very fabric of the cosmos, that we could only read when we were ready. Be prepared however, the book is quite a bit drier than the movie and those who don't enjoy reading Discover magazine may have to dig in to get through the slower, more scientific parts.
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Foster Makes "Contact"
jhclues25 June 2001
All of the greatest work by the greatest scientists has been done while they were very young, when they were stupid enough to believe that two-plus-two-equals-five, and pursued it instead of listening to all of those who were much older and wiser who said Don't Waste Your Time. Einstein, it has been said, asked all of his important questions before the age of twenty-five, then spent the rest of his life working on them. `Contact,' directed by Robert Zemeckis, is the story of a young scientist, Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster), who like Einstein and all the greats before her, has been asking questions and seeking answers since she was very young. And now, as a member of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) team, she is able to pursue her obsession with the mysteries of the galaxies and the infinite universe that surrounds us. Her job is to sweep the skies, using the most sophisticated equipment available, for a signal from deepest space. It may be her job, but for Ellie it's a labor of love, for she is convinced that there is something, or someone, out there somewhere, because otherwise, she reasons, what a terrible waste of space it would be. Ellie may be a dreamer, but she knows in her heart that it is the dreamers who over the years have been responsible for making us evolve, making us learn and grow because they are the ones who take insane, foolish ideas and pursue them. And to her, two-plus-two will always be five.

Ellie loves her job and believes in what she is doing, but it's been a struggle over the years, as she and others have had to constantly fight for the funding necessary to keep the project alive, begging for dollars from short-sighted, unimaginative people with vision that goes only as far as the bottom line of their budget book. It's been a tough row to hoe, and she's had to swallow a lot of pride over the years, but then one day it all pays off, when in one magic moment she hears what she's been waiting for all her life: A signal from a distant end of the galaxy-- someone attempting to communicate, to make contact, with the people of the Earth.

Ellie and her team soon realize that, whomever it is, they are using the universal language of prime numbers in their attempts at making contact; and when Ellie deciphers the code, she discovers something monumental in the bargain. But it's a message of global importance, something much bigger than she and her team alone, and she soon find herself fighting to remain a part of the drama that is only beginning to unfold-- the first interaction between human beings and an alien life form. And it's only the beginning of the adventure and the wondrous places this film is about to take you.

Jodie Foster gives a performance here that demonstrates what a gifted, talented actor she is. Her Ellie is convincing and believable, and someone to whom you can genuinely relate, no matter who you are or where you're from, because there is something universal in Ellie's passion and longing to discover the truth and to see beyond the veil of our limited mortal capacities. There's a strength to Ellie, born of a combination of intelligence and innocence, as well as tenacity and faith, and Foster manifests all of these complexities of her character beautifully, with a performance that should've landed her an Oscar nomination. In this role, she is simply as good as it gets.

As the young Ellie, Jenna Malone gives a terrific performance, also, which certainly captures the same spirit that we find in the adult Ellie. And there's a maturity she brings to the character that far exceeds her years. She was a perfect choice for the part, and if this is any indication of what she is capable of, Malone has a successful career ahead of her.

The supporting cast includes David Morse (Ted Arroway), Matthew McConaughey (Palmer), Geoffrey Blake (Fisher), William Fichtner (Kent), Tom Skerritt (David), James Woods (Kitz) and Angela Bassett (Rachel). Zemeckis did a brilliant job of bringing this film to fruition, especially in the way he allowed Foster the time to really develop her character, by giving her that extra moment at just the right time that ultimately meant so much in the final analysis. Too often it's those few minutes that wind up on the cutting room floor that make the difference between a good film and an exceptional one; and between Zemeckis and Foster, they took it to the edge by taking some chances to realize that combined vision, which in the end made this a great film. Thoroughly engrossing and entertaining, `Contact' will transport you to places you can only imagine, and it's all done with style and in a way that makes this a truly memorable cinematic journey. It's what the magic of the movies is all about. I rate this one 10/10.
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Different from the book doesn't mean bad.
jeeves-120 September 2002
I am used to hearing from just about everyone who has read a book that was made into a movie that the book is always better. I tend to agree with this opinion. Contact, however, shows that in the arts the norm is not always the truth; opinion, no matter how often it is backed up with evidence, can never break through the barrier into be a hardened and absolute truth.

I saw this movie first before I read the book. That is partly because I didn't know that there was the book until after the movie. So, a year or so after the viewing, I got the book. Of course, the movie, in general terms, follows the book fairly well. I have to say, the movie can easily stand on its own merits just as the book can also.

The immediate impression of the film after the book is that there is a great emphasis on faith, proof, truth and opinion. These themes are not much brought up in the book - at least not with the same impact nor in the same way as in the film. Of course, the field of Astrophysics, of which Carl Sagan was a practitioner, lends itself very easily to ultimate questions such as God, faith, truth etc. The vastness of space and complexity of reality, viewed through the scrutiny of the scientific eye, is mind-boggling. As was repeated in the movie several times: "if we're all that there is, "its an awful waste of space." Personally, I think that the book relates these notions of vastness and complexity much better than the movie. But, the audience of the book was certainly not necessarily the same audience as the movie.

To be more fair, the vastness which was expressed in the book was demonstrated to an equal degree, but differed in quality, by the "aloneness" of Dr. Arroway as she scuttles across the universe. In the book, Dr. Arroway is not alone but go with a team of scientists, all of whom make their appearance in the movie. There is much more detail given in the book of the trip through the device than in the movie. In fact, there are very deliberate omissions made which eliminate the technological bent of the book. Yet, the focus of the movie does not allow the movie to be diminished by these omissions in the same way that the book would unavoidably be lacking without those details.

One final aspect of the movie which is relevant with respect to the book is time. Of course, in physics, time has its leading role so it must make at least a cameo in a movie which relies on physics. Astrophysics is tied inextricably to relativity which is likewise tied to time. The timelessness of the device design sent via radio signals and the instantaneous trip Dr. Arroway seemed to put relativity into perfect perspective. The book takes a slightly different view by using distance and the experience of each traveler of moving fast distances with no other apparent sensations of motion. It all adds up to different but equal expressions of the science which Carl Sagan had mastered.

Both the book and the movie are simply fantastic, one not outshining the other as regards their scope and vision. Watch the film, it is a beautiful one. Read the book, it is equally beautiful.
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WOW!!!! There is Intelligence in Hollywood!
Aaron_Al24 December 1998
My only regret about CONTACT is that I didn't see it in a theater.

This movie works on so many levels. It is a fabulously balanced concoction of thrills, suspense, action, politics, acting & characterization, awe, and...(ahem)...INTELLIGENCE! (And not just the alien kind!)

Some have compared this movie to 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY...with, perhaps, some justification. There certainly are more than just passing similarities. However, whereas 2001 relied on hardware to (almost) the exclusion of all else and placed a greater emphasis on "spectacle", CONTACT strives for more substance on the human and sociological level. It touches one's emotions in a way that most movies never attempt to, much less succeed. In this, CONTACT could just as well be compared to Steven Spielberg's masterpiece, E.T. But whereas E.T. was meant to wake up the "child" in us, CONTACT succeeds in waking us to the next level! This most definitely is THE movie for BRAINIACS!

I rate CONTACT a STRONG 8 out of 10.
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the 2001 for the nineties
Christof-27 August 1998
Brilliant movie. Contact is based on the breathtaking novel written by the late Carl Sagan. It stars Jodie Foster as Ellie Arroway, a girl obsessed by what's out there. She intercepts an alien message, after which a mission is set up to go and meet the extra-terrestrials. But make no mistake, this is no Star Trek. This is a very pensive, intelligent movie that is times heartbreakingly sad. It is the 2001 for the nineties, since that movie was obviously somewhat of an inspiration. The ending may disappoint somewhat at first view, but actually turns out to be quite haunting if you give it a chance. Enjoy wonderful acting, great direction and amazing special effects. Read the book first though. You won't regret it.
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The 90s was the era of great thought provoking scifi
tuomaspap-7267427 January 2019
I had the luck of watching contact at the cinema when it came out . Being young meant that watching a movie of this grandure in a grand movie theatre with massive screen (something that was dying out at the time) means that this movie has been engraved in my mind . But it is not due to nostalgia or corrupt memory . Contact is a thought provoking mind bending movie ahead of its time . In fact it is the Interstellar of the 90s .

Stunning gorgeous visuals , and a storyline and plot asking some hard questions and providing answers that many might not want to accept as the movie battles between science fitction , science fact and religion in a way that in the end no one is left wanting .

This is not just a movie , this is an event !
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The Ultimate Adventure!
pit95pdt24 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
By far one of my favorite movies, Contact speaks volumes to the human condition...

Humans have dominated the Earth for centuries, and our greatest invention is civilization. No other spiecies on this planet has achieved what we have. Humans have gone from wandering primates to space travellers in a very short time.

But what would happen if we discovered that this achievement was not unique to the universe? What if "many others" have made the jump, and we finally make contact with them? How would humanity react? Excitement? Fear? Paranoia? Doubt? These and many other reactions are beautifully captured in this epic film.

After the philosophical debates, political manuverings, and terrorist attacks, the journey is finally "Okay to go"! The atheist scientist makes a leap of faith and travels in an unproven device to the stars.

When she returns she must convince the rest of humanity to have faith in her and her experiences for a journey that took only a fraction of a second to achieve.
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Science versus Faith, in One of the Greatest Sci-Fi of the Cinema Industry
claudio_carvalho1 January 2013
The skeptical scientist Dr. Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) researches extraterrestrial life with her team in Puerto Rico. When David Drumlin (Tom Skerritt) shuts-down the project, Ellie seeks for private funds to reopen her research in New Mexico. An anonymous millionaire provides the necessary funds and Ellie proceeds with her work.

Four years later, she is contacted by alien forms from Vega that send a coded message. The millionaire S.R. Hadden (John Hurt) that is financing the research deciphers the message and gives to Ellie the design of an intriguing machine. Ellie concludes that the equipment might be to transport a passenger to Vega. Now she needs to convince a commission formed by military, politicians, scientists and religious leaders that she is the best candidate for the journey.

"Contact" is one of the greatest sci-fi of the cinema industry. In my opinion, "Contact" and "Gattaca" are the two last best sci-fi produced by the cinema, and coincidentally they are both from 1997. "Contact" presents a great discussion between science and faith, with extraordinary quotes. My favorite is when Ellie asks her father if he believes that there are people in other planets and he answers: "But I guess I'd say if it is just us... seems like an awful waste of space. I saw "Contact" for the last time on 13 May 2000 on DVD and I have just watched it again on Blu-Ray. My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): "Contato" ("Contact")

Bote: On 13 May 2000 I saw this film.

On 22 Aug 2016, I saw this film again.
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The definitive film on what a true encounter with an alien civilization could be like
gheremond18 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Contact was one of the books I kept dreaming about being turned into a movie. The tone, the scope, the ambition of the material really begged for a big screen treatment. I was more than happy back in the day when I learned Robert Zemeckis, after his critical and commercial triumph with Forrest Gump, was preparing to bring Contact to life. And boy, did he deliver...

The first thing that needs to be clarified is that this isn't a faithful adaptation of the book. Zemeckis and his screenwriters departed significantly in several occasions, but Carl Sagan was part of the production and this was very significant in keeping the spirit and tone of the book intact, even if the events aren't identical. The presence of James V. Hart also did help a lot. He did phenomenal script work on Hook and Dracula and I am sure he was very valuable here too. Would it be even better if they had sticked to the book 100%? Perhaps, although the film as it stands is so damn good, there is really not much room for improvement. This is one of the rare occasions (singular?) where I don't mind the changes. The truth is, the movie would probably have to be like 4+ hours long if they tried to incorporate everything, like the 5 passengers of the Machine, the cold-war setup, Hadden's extended presence and influence and the entire back story with Ellie's family (or prime numbers).

It is hard even to start enumerating the number of subjects this film addresses over its densely packed 150 minutes. Science and religion and the role of each in our lives (including their conflicts), alienation, loneliness, scientific curiosity, ambition, integrity, perseverance, animosity, mistrust, the fear of the unknown and the urge to go where no man has gone before are only some of the issues dealt with and as you can understand, there is some pretty heavy material to digest. What should be stressed though is that Contact manages to communicate the optimism and awe that was such a central part of Sagan's book. As such, it is both an intellectual as well as an emotional ride. The film opens with a seminal scene, the camera zooming out of earth orbit with nothing but radio signals as audio track, gradually moving from deafening noise into deafening silence as earth becomes a pale blue dot in interstellar space, earth's radio signals being left far behind, with the camera eventually leaving the galaxy and moving towards the edge of the known universe. You realize right from the beginning, this journey will take you into uncharted territory.

Just like in Forrest Gump, Zemeckis manages to take what is essentially a personal story and present it in an epic scale, crafting a film that spans years, continents and star systems. The scope and ambition of the book is all there and in several instances, immensely amplified. A typical example is the case of the Machine, which unlike the book, involves a truly gigantic superstructure. The sabotage of the first Machine turns out to be a jaw dropping sequence, one of the best destruction scenes ever put on film and the emotional impact of it and it's aftermath is simply amazing. Similarly, the climactic scene in Hokaido, where the Machine is revealed in its full grandeur is up there in its frenetic energy and immaculate editing with the launching sequence of Apollo 13. When the wormhole within the core opens, it sucks in clouds and sea and sky... just perfect. We were all ecstatic the first time the Stargate opened and Daniel went through it, but that was nothing compared to how the wormhole travel is portrayed in Contact, giving us imagery that has never been topped ever since (just take a look at Interstellar, which did a much poorer job in the same field almost 2 full decades later). I know most people were drooling over Titanic at the time for the special effects, but this is my vote for 1997's best.

There are so many things that deserve praise in this film. In terms of acting, Jodie Foster is giving her career's best and her personal investment in this movie is palpable, I cannot think of another actress of the period more suited to bring Ellie to life. There are several quiet, introspective moments throughout that depend on her presence alone and Foster absolutely nails it. The great John Hurt is also marvelous as the recluse and enigmatic Hadden, turning scenes that could have been boring exposition into something pulled out of a thriller (like the revelation of the second Machine. If this doesn't bring you goosebumps, check your pulse asap). McConaughey is also doing work that would eventually take him about 2 decades to top. On a production level, the same team that worked on Forrest Gump essentially returns for Contact too, with great cinematography from Don Burgess and amazing production designs by Ed Verreaux. And Alan Silvestri composed yet another classic.

Contact is perhaps the best (and most realistic) treatment to date of a possible encounter with an alien civilization and one of Zemeckis's best. t is required viewing for anyone with even a cursory interest in sci-fi. And don't forget to check out Starman for a different (but equally satisfying) take on the subject.
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An Amazing and Deeply Nuanced film, That is Deeply Divisive, and Yet One of the Best Sci-fi Films of All Time.
lyrafowlpotter22 November 2016
I have watched "Contact" at least 10x's throughout my life, it came out when I was 12yrs and we saw it in the theater. I was blown away by it then, and I still am blown away by it now, and I love the build up to the last 40 minutes, it is exhilarating. The only thing I felt was a weak point in the film, was Matthew Mcconaughey. I did not feel it necessary to the story, and in some ways, bogged it down, and I felt that way even the first time I saw it, this is not to say he is not enjoyable, he is, and I still enjoy the parts with him, but I did find his character to not be totally necessary to the story. Despite that one minor flaw, it still remains to this day one of my all time favorite films.

I don't think this is a perfect film, and I do not believe there is such a thing, but I do believe that overall, it is pretty darn close, this is a film that deeply explores the divide between science and religion, and I feel, shows both sides very well. This is a long film, clocking in at over 2.5hrs, but I have never been bored watching this film. Every time I watch this film, I feel the same, I always get this awe of sense and wonder about the cosmos, in fact, it is what made me want to study cosmology (which I still want to) and explore the galaxy.

I also felt this was a movie about discovery and risk and not letting people stop you from doing what you are supposed to do. I love the discoveries and mysteries of this film, and I have felt the way this film reveals itself is astonishing. Mystery and Horror film makers could take a few cues from this film about twists and surprises. This is a film that provokes discussion, which is what every great sci-fi film or story should do, it doesn't have to be totally accurate or right, but it should always cause you to think and question, and this film absolutely does on many levels.

I have noticed that the vast majority of the negative reviews on here are by people who hated the fact that this movie, at it's core, is about faith, not necessarily faith in God, but faith in general. People who seem to be atheist, I don't see these things as incompatible, you cannot prove Darwinian Evolution, and yet, many believe in it. We believe a great deal about the Universe, which often get's unproven months later or years later, that in itself takes faith. We cannot see a great deal many things, and yet see the effects of them, and thus believe in them. This is really what this film is about. I don't believe this film should rattle your feathers just because you do not believe a god exist, I enjoy movies that "disprove" God, and yet, I am a believer. It should not take away from a film's enjoyment per se, especially one as well made as this one.

I never saw Ellie's lack of evidence as her admitting that religion needs to exist. That is silly. I also find it silly that some people think that the arguments over God or not God, invalidate this film, or that it shoves things down your throat. I loved the struggle, and the fact that she didn't back down from the people who were discriminating against her because she didn't believe what most people do, was very encouraging. As already stated, I am a believer, and yet, I never once got mad at her insistence that God didn't exist. Why? Because other people's opinions do not change my view point, and it blows my mind how some people can be rattled like this by a movie, that in my mind, seemed to play both sides of the fence pretty well. I don't believe the conclusion at all says one way or the other on the topic, other than there are things we cannot explain all the time.

God Bless ~Amy
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alexx66823 August 2008
"Contact" is an interesting film, which primarily isn't about whether we're alone in space or not. Mostly it seems to examine and contrast three distinct types of personalities: the idealist scientist (Eleanor Arroway), the religious believer (Palmer Joss) and the logical strategist/ manipulator (David Drumlin or Michael Kitz). The film bridges the first two types (in the end Arroway's motivation is driven purely by faith, while Joss' faith reaches beyond religion), while the third type is the one that's really in control of mankind's destiny (the manipulative Drumlin gets the mission initially, while the cold logic of Kitz and co demands they cover up what really happened).

Philosophically-wise, the film goes for a kind of expanding and "exterior" way of thinking. When Arroway meets the aliens (mind, in the guise of her dead father) they reveal that there are many civilizations in the universe etc but that mankind (in their own words capable of beautiful dreams and horrible nightmares, and always feeling void and alone) must find it's own way and in "slow moves". Also, they reveal that "the only thing that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other".

The film is rather tame and fairly predictable in it's stand. When Arroway meets the aliens, she could be talking to God. Returning to Earth without any solid proof, she doesn't convince about what was essentially a religious experience. The film exhibits this bridging of science and religion with ridiculous amounts of melodrama, in the usual slow-motion emotional-exploitation sequences and mellifluous strings. Standing as some sort of middle-ground between "2001, A Space Odyssey" (man reaching for the outwards) and "Solaris" (man delving in the inwards), the problem is that director Robert Zemeckis is neither a Stanley Kubrick nor an Andrey Tarkovsky.
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Buried within The Message from Vega – The Message from Sagan.
dunmore_ego29 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" needed updating. "Contact" is that update. Though it may never attain the lofty heights of commercialism that "Close Encounters" enjoyed, "Contact" is, in fact, a more intelligent vision of extra-terrestrial communication with our outer-spiral-arm planet.

From science maven Carl Sagan's optimistic novel of the same name, the movie is based on the ideology of the Drake Equation (the speculative theory postulating multitudes of Life-harboring planets in this galaxy, given the sheer quantity of possibly habitable worlds), defined in the movie by the almost-too-cute syllogism: "If we are alone in the Universe, it sure seems like an awful waste of space." The Drake Equation is weighed against the Fermi Paradox, which argues that if there *are* alien civilizations, why haven't we detected them yet? This movie's plot – obviously - negates that paradox.

Whereas "Close Encounters"' method of alien contact played on the age-worn industrial-era concept of aliens physically visiting Earth, an infinitely more efficient manner is effected in "Contact" by means of radio waves. SETI astronomers, headed by Ellie Arroway (perfect-featured Jodie Foster in sensual, leonine mane), stumble upon distinctly intelligent radio signals originating near the star Vega. In decoding The Message, they are astonished to find it is not merely a rudimentary greeting, but rather a technologically-superior detailed schematic for a Machine, to transport US to THEM.

Considering the economics of space travel – not referring to 'money', but expending 'energy' – The Message defines the most judicious method for establishing contact, whilst discerning whether a civilization is ready and/or worthy to step up to an interstellar level of commerce. The concept of "aliens" has matured in this film, from simple benign or malignant humanoids (treating Earth as the retarded child of the galaxy), to ambiguous "intelligences", regarding us as near-equals, in placing the ball in our court.

This maturity is due in great part to the inexhaustible efforts of the late Dr. Sagan, whose quest to bestow a sense of cerebral wonder in a generation jaded by laser-wielding aliens and detestably non-scientific "science fiction" found a culminating point in this movie.

With aliens being so apparently existent, there comes the inevitable contention of Religion vs. Science, and though Sagan clarifies his position in the novel, the movie must necessarily leave the issue ambiguous to appeal to its demographic of (real or imagined) "christians" – the bulk of earth's popcorn-plucking populace. The film ultimately "preaches to the converted" on BOTH sides. No Atheist or Christian will be jumping their razor-wire fences on the grounds of this movie.

As with all major-studio releases, the screen story tampers with the novel's finer details, slotting it squarely within motion picture dramatic parameters - most notably modifying the overweight evangelist of the book, Palmer Joss, to that of Hollywood man-toy, Mathew McConaughey, to give Ellie that seemingly necessary "love-interest". Thankfully, the broad strokes retain enough of Sagan's driving pursuit of knowledge, elevating it above mere whizbang alien-invasion fare.

Yet we do not lack for effects – stunning, thought-provoking effects, rather than "be-still-my-pants" jaw-droppers. The challenging opening sequence sees a camera panning backwards through space away from earth, beyond the edge of the Milky Way, outracing a jumble of radio static, which gets progressively "older", the farther out we go (as indicated by familiar tunes, news snippets and cultural signpost sounds - i.e. the farther out in space you get, the farther back in time you hear; in essence, time-traveling backwards - faster than light, no less, if you are outpacing radio waves!). Herein lies the foreshadowing of the whole plot. For those unfamiliar with the physics concept that underlines this sequence, the movie will make no sense.

The visualization of The Machine (that The Message instructed to build) was a marvel of utility and "alien" design, seamlessly integrated into the landscape of Cape Canaveral. Most impressive was the tragic sequence which destroyed the first Machine – so artfully contrived, with views from the scores of "media" cameras covering the event - that the viewer never thinks to question where the reality ends and the green-screen babble begins.

Though technically not a "special effect", an astounding camera trick with a running girl in a mirror will have you scratching your head for weeks as to how it was concocted - for directorial *aficionados*, this sequence alone is worth the movie.

One can only hope that viewers can delve through the flummery (which must necessarily blossom during the latter stages of the movie, as The Machine traverses worm-holes) to the REAL "message" from Sagan: that the questioning and scientific mind is infinitely more precious to our species and creates more impetus for launching Mankind to the stars than the stagnating minds of the pseudo-science shamsters, which includes fanatical Christian contingents.

One of the best arguments against *religionistas* – played out in the movie by the ever-psycho Jake Busey - is that no scientist has yet strapped himself with explosives and taken innocent lives in his quest to force an opinionated Physics viewpoint on other people, whom he believes he will "save" by blowing them up… The incomparably-reliable David Morse is Ellie's encouraging father, while William Fichtner poignantly plays a blind astronomer colleague.

A stoic Tom Skerritt is simultaneously Ellie's supervisor and adversary, although thankfully is not painted as "villainous", even though cast as the obvious antagonist; an intelligent rendering, keeping his interests "scientific" rather than petty. Although he does prevaricate to score his Machine seat, he is noble enough to admit to Ellie, "I wish we lived in a world which rewarded honesty like yours", to which Ellie replies, "I thought the world is what we make of it."

Carl Sagan died before production was completed on "Contact", making it one of his last gifts to a blinkered world. The film's dedication read simply: "For Carl". I wept. Without him, the Universe seems like an awful waste of space.

(Movie Maniacs, visit:
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A fantastic piece of real Sci-fi.
cyre5 March 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I thought they didn't make real Sci-fi in Hollywood. After seeing Star Wars, Alien, Predator, and later, Admageddon, Independence day etc etc. I've gotten the impression that they only make these kinds of "sci-fi" films in Hollywood. The no-brainers as i like to call them. They are really all about the "fiction" side of "science fiction". Of course you can't really blame the film makers since they make movies that the general public likes and right now, it seems to enjoy these no-brainers. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying i'm a great intellectual or anything, i just don't share the opinion that a good sci-fi film needs to have large explosions, aggressive aliens, people getting killed by colorful beams etc etc.


The Contact is something completely different. It's belongs to the the ever diminishing group of sci-fi with brains. Because of this. It's very understandable that it gets negative feedback from the friends of no-brainer sci-fi. Actually i find it quite funny how many people have criticized the ending of Contact, saying that they were disappointed when they didn't see how the aliens looked like. I think that was one of the least important things in this movie. Still, i would've been disappointed if there had been some green alien with tentacles or one of those little grey Roswell aliens. Instead, they made an excellent choice and didn't show us the aliens at all. Really good and brave decision. In my opinion, if you were disappointed when you didn't see aliens, you didn't really understand this movie.

The religion vs. science setting is really interesting and realistic. It's fits extremely well to modern day life and i have never seen it done better in any film. The best thing about it is that the film doesn't take sides. It just portrays both of them and leaves the decision to the viewer.

Another important thing in the movie is realism. One very impressive scene, in particular, comes to mind. Ellie is in a car, going through the crowds after the signals had been received and picture of Hitler been discovered in it. The nazis are saluting Hitler, new age fanatics are saying that UFOs are coming, some religious groups think that Jesus is returning etc. That scene really gave me goosebumps. That's exactly how people would react if something like that happened in real life.

I didn't intend to write yet another review, and i won't. I'll just say that this movie is really really good. They've done a great job at filming Carl Sagan's classic book. If you want to see a really thought provoking, well balanced sci-fi film, not just another one where Bruce Willis saves the planet at last moment, watch The Contact. It is Sci-fi at its best.
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Hands-down, the best sci-fi film of the 1990s
bradley-8116 November 2008
To accurately and honestly review science-fiction, you must recall what science-fiction IS: namely, a story that develops from what is scientifically possible, not IMpossible. (The latter would be science-fantasy.) "Contact," derived from the novel of the same name by Carl Sagan, conjectures one possible scenario of how a first-contact with extraterrestrials might develop. Sagan's original story is entirely based upon hard science and is devoid of the sorts of fantastic elements that characterize 98% of the "science-fiction" genre these days. Given this, Zemeckis' delivery of a story that is true to Sagan's original AND that represents a plausible, scientifically based story is extraordinary. Most directors cannot handle genuine science fiction, either because they must reconcile the story to the science, and/or because they refuse to yoke their creative muse in any way to the real world--it's much easier to make everything up. In addition to delivering a bona fide, sic-fi landmark film, "Contact" also thematically engages the viewer--an experience that is missing from almost every science- fiction/fantasy film produced these days. To my way of thinking, there are only five sci-films films that have ever fully engaged audiences in a thematic sense: "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951 version) "Forbidden Planet," "2001: A Space Odyssey," "Solaris" (1972 version) and "Contact." A sci-fi film of this caliber comes along about every ten years or so...if we're lucky. Meanwhile, it's sad that so many critics derided this film, largely because they compared it to films within the fantasy genre. Most likely, "Contact" will ride out the bad reviews and be vindicated in the long haul as a very superior work.

Zemeckis' one and only flaw in the making of this film was his digital integration of President Bill Clinton archival footage ("the president") with the actors; Zemeckis should be dragged through the streets by wild horses for this infraction. What was he thinking...?! It dates what is otherwise a timeless storyline. This aside, the film is chock-full of wonderment and leaves the viewer with a sense of having shared in something profound and deep. Acting is superb throughout, full of pathos and energy. Even Jodie Foster, who--true to her history- -overacts again in this film, gets off scot-free because it accords with the passionate, driven character of the geeky protagonist, Elleanor Arroway. The digital effects (besides the flawed, "Forrest Gump"-inspired digital insertions of Bill Clinton) are truly memorable, and "Contact"'s score by Alan Silvestri is easily one of the best 2-3 film scores of his career.

The combined virtues of remaining mostly true to Carl Sagan's novel, cinematic engagement of profound, timeless themes (humanity's relationship to the cosmos, religious versus scientific testament, the nature of belief) and masterful detailing easily make this the finest science-fiction film of the 1990s. No other science-fiction film of that decade even comes close. Meanwhile, science-fantasy fans should look elsewhere.
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One of the best SF movies ever made
wisewebwoman12 July 2003
And also a homage to the late great Carl Sagan. I have seen this movie 3 times, the most recent being on DVD (more on that later). I saw it originally on the big screen and it did not get the publicity it deserved. I then bought a copy of video to savour it again and was not disappointed. This is not a simplistic movie, the visuals are faultless and the clash of politics, religion and science very well done. As is the romance between the Reverend Palmer Joss (Played by Matthew McConaughy)and the atheistic Dr. Ellie Aroway (played by Jodie Foster). This issue of their sincerely held (but opposite) belief systems is never resolved but is left open. Ellie is a true scientist and even though some of the glory is withheld from her by a scheming ex-boss, somehow it all holds true, this sort of political jockeying happens and people do get away with it. The supporting cast is faultless and the special effects are incredible. Now the DVD - "Special Edition". What a disappointment, mainly typewritten notes on a variety of topics, simplistic computer graphics of the sets and no interviews with the stars or even footage of Carl Sagan shown. No outtakes, deleted scenes or director commentary. A complete rip off. Keep your video. 9 out of 10 for the movie, a must-see.
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Sci Fi twisted by religion
elkabong-dd30 May 2006
I had a chance to re-watch Contact today. I saw it originally when it was in the theaters, and I must say - I have VERY BAD memories of the movie.

Which is strange - because if you know me, you know that I just love Science Fiction. I have a weak spot a mile wide. I can ignore massive plot flaws and bad acting, for just a taste of what mankind might become in the future, or what he might see in the future.

And I admit, when I started watching, I was again captivated. A movie about first contact, and about human travel among the galaxies, and the massive complex machine that would take them there. I will tell you - the machine itself is a marvel. It was an amazing effect. The science, at least early on in this movie, is fine. Not amazing, but better than Hollywood's average.

But throughout the whole movie, the intertwining of religion and science are clumsily handled. Ridiculous soliloquies are given by the religious right, and equally clumsy rebuttals by the scientists. Which all led in the end, to Science being forced to admit to Faith, in front of the US Congress no less. It was a shameful end. A movie I could well have rated as a 7 entirely demolished in the last 5 minutes of the movie.

What a waste :(
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Best Movie Ever!
georom4-128 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
What can I say about this epic? The characters were so three-dimensional, the writing so inspired, the story so unpredictable, that a simple review can not do this justice.

My favorite part? When the evil-albino-Fundamentalist-science-hating preacher somehow manages to infiltrate the launching of this historic trillion-dollar mission. We know that he's up to no good because earlier in the film, he's preaching his sneering message of scientific intolerance in the desert, when Jodie's character passes by him and HE CALLS HER OUT ("these scientists..") when she's driving to get to the tracking station. That was some seriously eerie foreshadowing Robert Z, and it still gives me chills, even as I write this.

There were a few other characters that I loved so much that I have memorized their every line to help me with my life. Palmer Joss' words of wisdom about the shapelessness of love has quelled my doubts about the afterlife. The guy floating in space who pays for everything and may be the bald Jesus, was cool, and I liked him a lot although he kind of scared me too. James Woods was also excellent as the government skeptic who wants to control everything because he's got the biggest penis in town. Of course, Jodie Foster hates this guy and their lack of sexual tension (and also with romantic interest Matt McC) is genius storytelling in my opinion. There was also a blind guy who was kind of boring - but he did speak German and helped move the plot along to were it was supposed to go. The black woman was pretty and kept things from getting heated between the scientists and the government. There were also a lot of cameos that made me think at times that this was really happening.

Overall, I say watch this and enjoy it, again and again and again. Why watch it once when you can watch it twice? Thrice?
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Awful, awful, awful...
Charles-3113 March 2000
I'm always shocked to read so many good reviews of Contact, particularly among people claiming to be SF fans. This movie was one of the worst SF movies ever made. It really should have had Peter Graves in it just for the theme. It was Carl Sagen telling us that we are stupid and he is not. I found myself wanting to yell at the screen during the movie many times when the entire planet's field of experts could not seem to figure out something that was so obvious to me.

The "religious" elements of the story were just plain dumb. Does anyone recall there being a belief test for astronauts before? What was really amazing was that this religious extremism on the part of the government was supposed to be happening during the Clinton administration. There was not one believable character in the government plot.

There was no hint of scientific method. The science was just plain bad.

I'm reminded of many Star Trek episodes where someone says they heard voices or saw a vision. The are immediately discounted as having stress problems or some other mental problem. This on a ship where this type of stuff happens all the time. This movie does this as well. It protrays the entire world as not willing to pay any attention to what someone says when it's unexpected. What did they expect?

I could go on and on and about Contact. It's just so amazing to me that so many people turned off their brains and went into dreamland while watching it. It's a seriously bad movie.
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Major issue with the ending
tmoliver-773-59814323 June 2018
I loved the movie but have a major issue with the ending... The machine appeared to still be functional so why couldn't the skeptics take the journey?
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Excellent Book - Poor Film
kongstad19 December 2000
When I first heard that Contact - by Carl Sagan was made into a film I was very excited. The book is good in its own way - a little artificial but that is to be expected when a scientist turns to fiction.

One recurring theme in the book is the search for the truth and the search for the numinous experience (the religious). This theme is very much present in the movie. In the book Ellie is an agnostic, a sceptic both as a scientist and in her spiritual life. In the movie she is made a logical positivist. Well this is to be expected since you have to be explicit when making movies.

But in the movie Ellie has to accept the fact that her only way of justifying what she knows to be the truth is by a leap of faith, thus making traditional religion the "winner" of the debate, the book explicitly says that Ellie finds concrete proof of her version of the truth, thus all but eliminating the element of faith.

The movie thus ends with the opposite conclusion of the book.

When the book was about the search for truth, the possibility of extra terrestrial life, and the inherent beauty of life. The movie pretty much boils it down to being an preaching on the gospel of organised religion.

I didn't like it because I've read the book. But as a film it didn't work to well either. Rent this, to see on a rainy day, but be warned its just a 4/10
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